If you're thinking of trying for a baby, it's important to remember that sperm health and quality is just as important when it comes to successful conception!
Doing a semen analysis is never a bad idea! If your partner's sperm health is good then you have ticked that box. Last thing you want is to work on your own fertility health, disregarding your partners' and find out later that his sperm was suboptimal and was at least part of the reason for any fertility struggles.
There are a number of measures that present in a semen analysis; here we will talk about 3 factors that is commonly an issue and that we need to take into account for sperm health are. Those factors are sperm count, motility and morphology/appearance. Let's go into a little more detail!
This refers to the number of sperm, typically listed on a sperm analysis as 1 million per mL of seminal fluid.
Anything less at 15 million per mL would be considered as suboptimal, while the average is around 70 million, and high amounts can exceed 200 million per mL!
Motility is the speed at which the sperm are moving forward.
It is usually classified under three different categories: rapidly progressive, slowly progressive and non-motile (not moving). Over 25% of rapidly progressive is usually viewed as normal, however different labs may come back with slightly varying measurements.
Reasons for poor motility may include nutrient deficiencies, poor detoxification which leads to toxin build up, inflammation in the body which may be caused by allergies and sensitivites, medication, infections, lack of mitochondrial energy to propel sperm, autoimmune processes.
This is about the shape and size of sperm -- or rather, how many are shaped normally.
Typically, less than 40% abnormally formed sperm is still considered normal.
Sperm morphology affects fertility because sperm have to be a certain shape to be able to penetrate an egg.
Below is a diagram for what a healthy sperm should look like:
The good news is that preconception care is also available (and highly recommended) for men -- it takes two to tango, after all!
Things like supporting good detoxification and waste elimination from the body such as supporting liver function and lymphatic drainage are important for optimising sperm health. Herbal and nutrient support is fantastic here.
Making sure to check for other conditions such as hyper/hypothyroidism as well as any other underlying hormonal conditions or imbalances is also very important for the genesis of sperm.
Nutrition is one aspect that cannot be overlooked! Eating right and supplementing where appropriate is absolutely vital for healthy sperm. There are many specific vitamins and minerals that are required in this process including: B vitamins (especially B6), zinc, selenium, vitamins C and E, as well as protein, essential fatty acids and powerful antioxidants like CoQ10.
Lifestyle factors should also be strongly considered where suboptimal fertility is present. Being a healthy weight, minimising exposure to toxins and chemicals, managing environmental pollutants, alcohol and drug consumption, and last but not least, stress reduction are all very important.
All of these factors together should paint a good picture for what is required for healthy sperm!
Remember, preconception care is not only just for women as men also have a part to play in a healthy baby. Extra help for general preconception or even troubleshooting for fertility complications is available in naturopathic consults at I Am Balanced, so get in touch for a personalised approach because everyone's body is different.